Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Bill Maher

Aired August 28, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Bill Maher is back.
BILL MAHER: Thank you. I missed you too.

KING: Always outspoken, always outrageous, always funny, and taking your calls.

But first, breaking news in the JonBenet Ramsey case, Boulder, Colorado drops the murder case against John Mark Karr because his DNA doesn't match what was found on JonBenet.

We've got all the latest from the scene and reaction from the Ramsey family next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Good evening.

A startling day in Boulder, let's go there with Jean Casarez, correspondent for Court TV News. She is also an attorney. Jean, what happened?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV NEWS: It was shocking. We were sitting here. All of a sudden we hear the first appearance has been cancelled. Then we hear formal charges aren't going to be filed. Then we hear the arrest warrant has been quashed.

And really, Larry, it all tends to go toward the DNA evidence, the fact that they took a sample of him on Friday. They analyzed it in 24 hours. It did not match, so based upon that they really dismissed everything outright.

KING: Was there therefore, Jean, too much hullabaloo before that?

CASAREZ: You know the district attorney is saying that they had to arrest him in Thailand for many reasons. They tried to get a DNA sample in Thailand. They tried to get it from a drinking glass and from other means.

But because of the unknown male DNA that was in her panties mixed with her blood they had to get a pure sample of that DNA. They said they couldn't do it in that country, so they had to bring him to this country.

The question is why couldn't they have gotten it in Los Angeles? I don't think we have the answer to that question at this point but they brought him here to Boulder, took that DNA sample on Friday. They did not have a match, so they decided to not proceed with the case that didn't have a DNA connection.

KING: Jean, his public defender, Seth Temin, said today "We're deeply distressed by the fact that they took this man, dragged him here from Bangkok, no forensic evidence, confirming the allegations against him and no independent factors leading to a presumption that he did anything wrong. What do you make of that?

CASAREZ: Well that's exactly right. You know, tomorrow the D.A.'s office is going to have a press conference and I think they have a lot of questions to answer and that's going to be one of the major questions because once everything was finished today he was a free man.

In fact, we understand that he was almost released at an undisclosed location in this community by his choice but then all of a sudden California called up and said, "No, we want him in California for those five charges of misdemeanor possession of child porn," so he's back tonight in the county jail.

KING: Those five charges misdemeanor possession of child porn can lead to what in the way of conviction?

CASAREZ: Well, it doesn't lead to too much of a conviction. For a misdemeanor it's about one year. Now those are five counts. If they are consecutive that would be five years. If they are concurrent that is one year.

But my producers at Court TV did a little bit of research, Larry, and it's interesting. There is law that possibly, based on conviction from those misdemeanors, he could be registered as a sex offender.

Now those -- that's based on current case law and this is from 2001 but the reason that could be a possibility if he is termed to be a danger to society and registering as a sex offender would not be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

KING: So, as it stands now, Jean, and we'll come back to you, he's not been convicted of anything?

CASAREZ: No, absolutely nothing, no.

KING: Pam Paugh, is JonBenet Ramsey's aunt, is the sister of JonBenet's late mother Patsy. She is in Atlanta. What's your feeling, Pam? And, you all along said presume innocence.

PAM PAUGH, AUNT OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Yes, I did, Larry. Are any of us shocked terribly by the turn of events? I don't think so. We did what we said we would do and that was to be very patient and to wait and let Lady Justice bring down the gavel and say whether or not anything should be done with or to this gentleman.

I'm quite concerned, however, that the prosecutor made such an open statement about why this client of his was dragged from Thailand. Well, as a layperson my answer would be "Mr. Prosecutor, when your client raises his hand and interjects himself into what"...

KING: You mean defense attorney.

PAUGH: Oh, yes, yes, I'm sorry, yes, his public defense attorney, yes.

KING: Right.

PAUGH: When you raise your hand and interject yourself into a case, I think that the D.A. did what she was prescribed by law to do, which was to bring him to the jurisdiction and to start with DNA testing and any other questioning that was necessary.

KING: Have you spoken to your brother-in-law?

PAUGH: No, I haven't, but I would like to correct lawyer Murphy's comments. John is not out of the country. He has run nowhere.

KING: Oh, she made those comments earlier?

PAUGH: Yes on another show I believe.

KING: Do you think you're ever going to solve this?

PAUGH: Well, our hope is that we are going to solve it, Larry. Of course, our stance is that we are not going to stop ever looking for the killer of my niece and that I know for certain.

KING: Pam Paugh, JonBenet Ramsey's aunt, we'll be keeping in close touch.

Let's go to New York, Dr. Larry Kobilinsky. Jean Casarez remains. We'll come back to Jean. Dr. Kobilinsky is the forensic examiner and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. What's your reaction to this?

DR. LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXAMINER: Well, like many other people I'm somewhat shocked but I'm not shocked that he was let off the hook. I'm shocked that apparently the D.A. Mary Lacy did not have anything of any substance that connected him to the victim or the crime scene.

She was gambling and I hate to use the word bungling but the case was bungled from the beginning, as we all know. The crime scene wasn't handled properly and, again here, you know, I think they really should have waited until they had some kind of physical evidence before they arrested this individual.

And I don't buy it. I don't buy that they couldn't take surreptitious DNA. It's done many times here in the states. People get convicted on that basis. I don't buy it.

KING: But, on Friday on this show you said he was a viable suspect.

KOBILINSKY: Well, I thought so and I'll tell you why I said that because I think the person who committed this crime had the same kind of characteristics, the pedophilia and the discussion of killing somebody while engaged in the act of sexual contact.

You know it's this kind of individual that the public has to be aware of. I think if anything good came out of this case it's the awareness of the public about people like Mr. Karr.

KING: Doctor, shouldn't the prosecutor have been aware when everything seemed so quirky and they were saying he was at home Christmas and that a lot of people confess to crimes they didn't commit?

KOBILINSKY: Of course. You can't -- you can't just have a conviction unless it's corroborated by something, something that is tangible, some kind of physical evidence, a palm print, a shoe print or DNA. But apparently she had none of that.

I think she was -- I'm talking about D.A. Lacy, I think she was really focused on that DNA and was gambling that there would be a match. It's just not enough. You can't do that.

KING: Jean Casarez, she is I gather highly respected. Do you think she just got excited here and jumped the gun, Jean?

CASAREZ: You know, I think she felt she had no alternative. I think she felt because if you look at some of these things in probable cause affidavits the intensity by which this man explained what he did to JonBenet Ramsey in gruesome detail, in sexual detail, I think she believed that that intensity meant something and she had to get a hold of his DNA. And she has said that she couldn't get it over there. She had to get it over in this country.

KING: How about, Dr. Kobilinsky, the uncertain question of how would he have gotten in the house?

KOBILINSKY: Well, how would he have gotten in the house? That's a very good question. We know that there was a broken window and it's very likely that he got in through that window at a time that the family was not at home. Presumably, whoever the intruder was, was in he home while the family was away and hid there waiting for the right time to strike.

KING: Jean, give us a little now timing here. When do they fly him back to Los Angeles to be held there on these five misdemeanor counts?

CASAREZ: Well, I think the extradition hearing will be sooner rather than later because I think Colorado is finished with him now. So, as soon as California authorities can come. We have heard unofficially that could be as early as tomorrow afternoon and I think then very quickly there will be another flight back to California and there he will face those five misdemeanors.

KING: Will the age of the case have an effect?

CASAREZ: Sure, it could, because remember these are just charges and it's now what five years old? And so they have to proceed with their investigation to see what they can do on it. So, if they can't culminate this in a conviction, he could be a free man.

But, Larry, I'll tell you something. I think investigators around this country in the areas where he has lived are now talking with their investigators. Mothers are talking to children and you don't know what will happen.

KING: Five counts though of misdemeanor. He'll get bail, won't he?

CASAREZ: Well, he got bail last time and he fled the country, so I don't think he'll get bail this time, no.

KING: Or a very high bail.

CASAREZ: Or a very high bail, you're right.

KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, do you think this man that they're going to be tracing him the rest of his life that they're going to be looking at his past and where he goes and where he turns? Or, will he fade into the dust?

KOBILINSKY: I think he's here to stay. He probably will write a book. I hope he doesn't benefit by making a lot of money. I hope he's not going to be part of a movie. But he will be thoroughly investigated that's for sure. He's been in many places around the country, around the world, and who knows there? He may be linked to other events. So, he will be part of history.

KING: And, Jean, the investigation in Boulder goes on?

CASAREZ: Yes, it does. Yes, it does and you never know who could come out of the woodwork because of this. Maybe the story is not over.

KING: Thank you both very much. We'll be checking in with you frequently, Dr. Larry Kobilinsky, forensic examiner, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Jean Casarez, correspondent, Court TV News, also an attorney.

We probably won't know the full story on this until tomorrow, so expect more about it on our show tomorrow night.

And coming up, we're going to ask Bill Maher for his take on John Mark Karr and the kershuffle (ph) when he joins me here on set right when we come back. Don't go away.



MAHER: When I see this coverage of this guy, this John Mark Karr guy, I'm like is the media kidding? This guy, how would -- how would -- how could he be the burglar? He didn't -- JonBenet was not famous until she was murdered. They talk about him like he was the guy who killed John Lennon but John Lennon was famous before. I think it's just -- they just like to go after the story because JonBenet sells papers.


KING: He's back, always good to have him with us, Bill Maher, the host of Real Time With Bill Maher, back for another season on HBO. It began last Friday, 11:00 Eastern, his "New Rules" -- no, 11:00 everywhere Eastern and 8:00 and everywhere. He's on all over the board.

"New Rules" is now available on DVD and his New York Times best- selling book "New Rules" comes out in paperback on September 5th. There's other things to tell you about him but we'd run out of show.

OK, were you saying this shouldn't have been covered at all? What are you saying?

MAHER: That's what I -- that person who you just had on the clip looked a lot like me. I think he was right.

KING: Don't cover it at all. What were you saying?

MAHER: Well, I wouldn't say don't cover it at all but it was astounding to me that the media, you know, just like (INAUDIBLE) JonBenet any excuse to show footage of her prancing around in a cowboy outfit like a little whore so what?

KING: What do you do with a story that's been around ten years? You got to admit it has been a story. The New York Times had it front page the first day.

MAHER: I know but the media is supposed to be some sort of filter aren't they? They're supposed to be a little more intelligent than the average person.

KING: So, how would you have covered this really?

MAHER: Well first of all I would have looked at it, what that man, me, just said there last Friday night. How about the idea that how could he have done this? How could he have known about JonBenet Ramsey? They didn't care. They didn't want to look at that. They didn't because what they wanted to do was get back into the JonBenet story because that's good eyeball grabbing stuff.

KING: Supposing they wanted to get into it...

MAHER: But this guy...

KING: ...because the public is interested in it?

MAHER: Well, the fourth estate used to feel that they had a little bit of a duty to tell the public what was important and what was not and not to cover everything. Yes, you could put porn on CNN and I'm sure you'd get more eyeballs.

But this guy was, you know, he was the Paris Hilton of pedophiles. He was famous for nothing. He did absolutely nothing. And I think it just -- the reason why I was talking about it, and Christopher Hitchens (ph) said, "We'll you're doing the same thing."

And before I was cut off I was going to say that the reason I was bringing it up is not just to make the point about what was going on but also that the press is so uncritical about what they choose to cover and what questions they choose to ask, if they had chosen...

KING: Those questions were asked. This guy is probably a kook. I said every night this guy looks innocent.

MAHER: I'm not talking about you, Larry.

KING: But you mean there are some that (INAUDIBLE)?

MAHER: You're not a news show. You're an interview show. You're different. I'm talking about when people tune in to get the news, OK. And it's the same thing with the run-up to the war in Iraq, the same sort of uncritical coverage. I think there is a theme running through here.

KING: Who should have been criticized, the Boulder D.A., in your mind who should have -- who should have been laced?

MAHER: Well that's certainly part of it but that's not my business. My business is show business/media, so yes I do criticize. And when I criticize CNN or I brought up Time Magazine also last week on the show, you know, we do it out of affection because these are, you know, are institutions that we have come to love, that we grew up with because there was something for smart people. And so we're doubly disappointed when we tune into something that we feel is for the smart people and they're covering something that's not smart.

KING: Would you admit smart people in wherever they were, were talking about JonBenet last week?

MAHER: They may have been.

KING: Smart people, intellectuals, professors were talking about JonBenet?

MAHER: OK but, again, I think the media should be a leader and in that regard I think they should have said, "You know what, this is not a credible story. Just because we can cover it doesn't mean we have to."

KING: And do you think it was covered, the proverbial we, as if he were guilty?

MAHER: Absolutely, when the truth is they should have right from the beginning go, "This guy couldn't possibly be the guy. Yes, he killed her in his mind but that's as far as it went." It was so -- to me it was obvious that this was just a guy who wanted publicity. He was a creepy guy in a lot of ways, I mean you know, we'd want to get this guy off the streets but certainly he wasn't the murderer.

KING: Why do you think the D.A. ran with it? MAHER: Another good question, probably because anyone who can works in a more high paying law enforcement job and, you know, this is why you get O.J. trials where the evidence is overwhelming to convict the man but it's the dream team up against people who are on a public salary.

KING: We'll take a break and come back, lots more to talk about with Bill Maher. We'll get into things like the Mel Gibson controversy and other things he may have thoughts about. Bill Maher is back. Don't go away.


MAHER: New rule, confessed child murderers have to fly coach. Of all the people who ever deserved to spend 14 hours listening to a crying baby and having his seat kicked, number one has got to be that guy.




MAHER: What are you looking at sugar? I own Malibu. I have said this many times. Drinking and anti-Semitism do not mix. If you have to drink and hate Jews and drive get a designated hater, please.

Now, Mel Gibson has issued his apologies. I guess they are sincere. I'll tell you what does not look good. Today he signed a three picture deal with Hezbollah.


KING: What do you make of that whole story?

MAHER: Well, I'm glad you showed a clip from my Amazon show. That shows we're embracing the Internet. Well, first of all I think the bottom line is that religion makes people arrogant. One of the things I don't like about religion is I think it is arrogance...

KING: You're blaming religion?

MAHER: I think religion is usually, especially in this country, it's arrogance masquerading as humility. I think, you know, when Mel Gibson said, "I own Malibu" that doesn't surprise me because when you think you have absolutely certitude about what happens after you die and who God is that's awfully arrogant to me.

We can't get things right here on earth. We're always wrong about stuff, day-to-day stuff. And to think that you know what happens and who God is and that's where that all comes from.

And, I'm telling you something, Mel Gibson does not know what happens when you die and who God is. How do I know that, because I don't know and Mel Gibson does not have powers of perception that I do not have. When I hear Mel...

KING: He may have belief you don't have though.

MAHER: Yes, but it's more than belief. These people, please, it's a lot more than belief. That's what faith is. It's saying I know for sure 100 percent. And when I hear Mel Gibson say things like, "I love the Jews. I pray for them. I pray for them." In other words, the little darlings they're too benighted. They don't know what happens when we die. They don't know about Jesus, so I have to pray for them. You know what, you can -- CNN sorry, not HBO there (INAUDIBLE).

KING: What did you make of the whole Middle East thing about Hezbollah?

MAHER: Well, I wrote a -- we were just talking about Arianna in the back. I wrote a little blog for Arianna about that because it was her birthday, you know. I'm not a big blogger but when it's her birthday you can't turn her down. And I was saying that to me, you know, the world is Mel Gibson because the world is anti-Semitic.

KING: The world?

MAHER: Absolutely and the proof of that is that they ask Israel to maintain a level of restraint when they're attacked that no other country would ever be asked to uphold.

I mean can you imagine if there was a terrorist organization that took over the country on our northern border, which would be Canada, and they started shelling us in our northern cities and Minnesota and Bangor, Maine was being shelled, what do you think George Bush would do?

I think he would nuke them before breakfast. And, look, you know I don't like George Bush but he is the best president we've ever had on Israel because for some reason he gets that.

I think the reason he gets it is because he's a crazy evangelical Christian. He thinks the world is going to end in our lifetime, so Israel needs to be in the hands of the people who it was in the hands of when Jesus returns which would be the Jews. That's why the Christians do so.

KING: Did Hezbollah in a sense though PR wise win that?

MAHER: PR wise of course because the media always likes the underdog or what they perceive as the underdog, not that they're really the underdog at this point. Did you see those pictures of Hezbollah handing out cash?

I had Spike Lee on Friday night and I was saying, you know, when you see Katrina a year later these people can't get help. A day after the war ended there is Hezbollah handing out and peeling off hundred dollar bills, American, U.S. currency, hundred dollar bills.

KING: Where did it come from, Iran?

MAHER: Where did it come from? It came from U.S. consumers buying gasoline. I wish someone would do a little tape where they would morph that, morph the guy at the pump paying for his gasoline here in America into the Hezbollah guy peeling off those hundred dollar bills. Yes, we buy gasoline. It does to Iran because they sell us the oil. They get the money to Hezbollah. Hezbollah shells Israel. It's a continuum.

So, you know, I feel really bad for Lebanon. I'm sorry you got your country all bombed up. But, you know, when you let a terrorist organization take over your country that's what's going to happen. I'll tell you two Arab countries that never get bombed, Egypt and Jordan, because they made a peace treaty with Israel. Try it.

KING: Yes. All right, we're going to take a break, folks.

By the way, Bill will be doing a stand up performance at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque Saturday.

MAHER: Kiva.

KING: Kiva.

MAHER: There are sacred Indians there. You can't mispronounce their name. You'll have bad spirits.

KING: You say tomato, I say tomato.

And next day, Sunday, he'll perform September 3rd at the Grove.

MAHER: In Anaheim.

KING: Can't mispronounce that, in Anaheim.

And we'll be back. We'll also have e-mails and some phone calls and lots of other subjects to cover with the omnipresent, always present, welcomingly present Bill Maher. Don't go away.


MAHER: Forget about the anti-Semitism. What about driving through Malibu at 90 miles an hour drunk? It is getting so bad on PCH Britney Spears doesn't feel safe leaving her baby on the curb anymore.




MAHER: We're aware that we cannot take certain liquids and gels anymore but there are some things that you cannot take on the plane, martyr sauce, come on, Dr. Scholl's shoe bomb inserts. I tell you right there, soap on a fuse, behead and shoulders. Arm & Hamas baking soda. Now, come on. Pray & wash. And of course, watch out for Pezbollah.


KING: That's funny. Bill Maher is our guest. Friday nights on HBO, "Real Time With Bill Maher" is back. The books are out, the DVD. What, you wanted to add something on that?

MAHER: I just wanted to say that the world can't have it both ways with the Jews. After World War II everybody said how could the Jews have gone to the slaughter? How could they just have let the Nazis line them up, they willing willingly took off their clothes, they got shot, they marched in to the gas chambers.

KING: Hannah Arendt (ph).

MAHER: Oh yes. The banality of evil she called it. OK, so they wanted the Jews to defend themselves? Well now they're defending themselves. You can't have it both ways.

KING: We have an e-mail from Carla of Denver, Colorado. Question, who do you think would make a good Democratic candidate for president?

MAHER: Anyone who would get his testicles out of Al Gore's lock box, which is apparently where they left them at the last election. Nobody so far because no Democrat really steps forward and makes the case.

KING: Hillary?

MAHER: Of what should be the opposition party. Least of all Hillary.

KING: Least of all?

MAHER: Well, yes. Because we've talked about this before. She's in the John Kerry, Al Gore camp, which is to try to go after the Republican voter, that NASCAR-driving, beer-swilling, goose-hunting voter, instead of the 79 million people who didn't vote at all. How about somebody who was really angry? Because I think a lot of people in this country are really angry.

KING: Biden?

MAHER: Biden's good. I like Biden a lot. But --

KING: What about, are you still a McCain fan on the Republican side?

MAHER: He's losing me and a lot of people.

KING: Because?

MAHER: Well, did you see what he said today about Bob Jones University?

KING: No, what did he say?

MAHER: Well he said I might go to Bob Jones. This is the guy who in 2000 said George Bush went to Bob Jones, I would never go there, I would say to them, why don't you come out of the 16th century and come into the 21st century? Well, I don't think they've made up those 500 years since he last ran for president.

KING: James Carville says if Democrats can't win in this environment we have to question the whole premise of the party.

MAHER: Absolutely true.

KING: Connecticut Senate race. Joe Lieberman. What do you think?

MAHER: You know, Joe Lieberman is a selfish guy. He's proved that twice. Because in 2000 he could have helped the Democratic party and therefore I think the nation, by either choosing to run for the Senate or run for vice president. He said no, it's more important for me to still be around. And that's what he's saying this time. It's more important for me to run as an independent. I'm going to be the representative of Connecticut, whether the voters like it or not. This from the guy who criticized Bill Clinton for being immoral because he had sex in the Oval Office.

KING: He's ahead in the polls, though.

MAHER: Yes, he is. I'm sure he is. Because the Republicans are not even backing their own candidate. That's why. But this is always what happens with that Republican party. They are somehow able to conflate real morals and values with sex. Because they're Republicans, Larry. They're bad at sex. They're pasty, unattractive white people, and if you had to have sex with them it would be over in an excruciating three minutes. So what they always like to do is conflate sex with morals. You know, Joe Lieberman was so upset about Bill Clinton and his horrible morals. Well, Joe Lieberman should look at his own morals.

KING: The controversy over Virginia Senator George Allen, who used the word macaca when referring to one of his opponent's campaign volunteers.

MAHER: I thought macaca was something a kid said when they had to go to the bathroom. I've never heard this. This is like you remember the movie "Mean Streets?"

KING: Sure.

MAHER: Martin Scorsese's first movie and there's this fight in a bar because somebody called somebody a mook. And they have a big fight and then they go, what's a mook? Nobody had heard the word.

KING: Macaca apparently is a bad word for Indians, from India, not American Indians.

MAHER: Oh, I thought it was a bad term for blacks. KING: No, a term for Indians.

MAHER: See, you don't even know what it means. We don't even know --

KING: But the kid who he said it about is an A student.

MAHER: The point is George Allen and we've had him on the show, he's a nice guy. But he's another guy cut in the mold of George Bush. In other words, dim. Sorry, Senator Allen. I know you probably won't be coming back on my show now, but that's the truth. He's not a bright guy. And his excuse, we can concentrate on what an idiot I am or we can look to the future.

I think at this point in our history, with the peril we're in in so many areas we really need a bright guy next time. How about a bright guy? How about an elitist? I know that's become a bad word but what if people just sat back and went, wait a second, elitist that means somebody who's elite, someone better than me, smarter than me? Because what are we trying now?

KING: Jefferson was an elitist, was he not?

MAHER: And he was a lot smarter. As opposed to this theory of go with the mediocratist.

KING: After the break, by the way, we'll include your phone calls and some more e-mails. It's the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

MAHER: After the break we'll include your hate mail.

KING: First anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Have we learned anything?

MAHER: I doubt it. Do we ever learn anything about anything?

KING: Usually after the fact hopefully we learn something.

MAHER: Well, I think what people learned down there is that you cannot count on government, certainly can't count on this government. What I learned ...

KING: How did they miss that? I mean, it was on television. No movie, it was on television.

MAHER: Right. What's really amazing is that George Bush is going to go down there and somehow spin it as a success. Half the population hasn't come back. I mean, the streets aren't even cleaned. It's so sad. You know, this country is, I've said this before, I'm going to keep saying it, it's a pitiful, helpless giant, in the phrase of Richard M. Nixon. And I know people hear that and they go, oh, Bill Maher, there you go hating America first. I don't hate America.

I want to love America because I want America to be what it used to be. And what it is is that country that we used to look at and go, oh, god, these poor people can't do anything. Why are they so listless and incapable of handling stuff? But now we're that country. We can't get off the oil. We can't do anything. We can't homeland security. We can't wear sheep at the airport. Whatever they try to do at the airport, that we somehow wind up, oh, now we have to check our liquids.

I said on the show Friday night, if someone put a bomb under their hat or in their big Afro, we'd all be shaving our heads at the airport, Larry. We're fighting the last war there. We're just a dummy. This country is dumb. It's like a muscle bound wrestler in high school that can't do anything except beat up a guy.

KING: Yet here you can go on television and attack us at the same time.

MAHER: Yes, that's right. We still have free speech.

KING: Thank god. We'll come right ...

MAHER: We'll see after the commercial. Once the hook comes out.

KING: If he's not here when we come back, we'll go to your calls and some e-mails right after this.


MAHER: A German publication did an interview with the president and asked Mr. Bush what was his best moment of his presidency, and he said it was the day that he caught a 7 1/2-pound perch. I couldn't make that up. Now, he leaves out the part that he was fishing in downtown New Orleans.




MAHER: If Latino immigrants want to be taken seriously, they have to stop wearing the giant hats. The civil rights marchers in the '50s didn't dress like Buckwheat and carry watermelons. You're a proud immigrant demanding his rights, not the Frito Bandido.


KING: Bill Maher's our guest. Watsonville, California. We're getting some calls, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi, Bill.


CALLER: I love you. You're one of my favorite people.

MAHER: Oh, thank you. You can come to the party.

CALLER: Thanks. Anyway, I'd like to say, I'd like your input on Schwarzenegger. I know that you've said a lot about him. But living in Watsonville, we have a problem -- we've had a problem with Maria Shriver coming and being ousted.

KING: Being ousted?


KING: What do you mean ousted?

CALLER: The Mexican-American people don't like her here, and I am Mexican-American. I am also Native American Indian. And I don't think Schwarzenegger is a really good guy.

KING: We'll see what Bill thinks.

MAHER: If you're Mexican-American, you're going to love Pat Buchanan's new book. It's called "I Hate Brown People."

KING: It's almost called that.

MAHER: It's almost called that. And it's so funny because his premise is that by 2050, the white waspy people will be less than half the country and my God, they're running it so perfectly, how could we get rid of them? What we need is more waspy people like George Bush and his delinquent son.

Anyway, what was the question? Oh, Schwarzenegger. You know, I like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I do. I mean, I thought when he ran it was a ridiculous election. But he -- look, if he's the future of the Republican Party, he's done a great service to this country because he would move the Republican Party way toward the center. He's a lot more sensible about stuff than the hard right Evangelical Christians who've taken that party over.

I read in the paper today that he's considering a bill that would allow us to grow hemp -- hemp. I would put that in that long list of things that make us a pitiful, helpless giant, that we're so stupid that we can't even take advantage of this very valuable crop. Not another tree would have to be cut down if we could grow hemp. And we can't apparently grow hemp because it's a cousin of the evil drug marijuana, which should be legal, too. We won't go into that. But as I always say to people, if you think hemp is dangerous, try getting high on it.

KING: Let's go to an e-mail question from Josh of Lansing, Michigan. Do you think the administration will try and capitalize on its trusty fear tactics to advance its agenda for an Iran invasion?

MAHER: Yes, I do. It's the only card they can ever play. You know, it's funny. George Bush always talks about how evil the Iranian president is and he is. You know, like anybody who says that the Jews should be driven into the sea, not on the top of my list and I'm not even Jewish.

But I really don't like the president of Iran. But somehow George Bush doesn't understand that he's doing what George Bush does. He's talking to his base. George Bush doesn't really believe that gay marriage is evil, either. But he's rallying the base so he can win an election.

That's what the Iranian guy is doing. And could we at least have a debate on whether this is an impossibility, that Iran be allowed the nuclear weapon before we invade them? I mean, Pakistan is a Muslim country full of people who want to kill us. And they have a nuclear bomb. Somehow that's OK.

KING: Cortez, Colorado, hello.



CALLER: I have a question. I would really like to see Bill have a special show and interview -- actually several special shows and interview political candidates. I am a big fan of "Real Time" but I think we need more exposure of the candidates.

KING: Bill?

MAHER: I do, too.

KING: Usually you do have candidates on. Well, you have elected people.

MAHER: Very rarely. Candidates don't want to talk to me for a very good reason. I'm not someone like the rest of the people they talk to in the media, who let them get away with lying. Period. So we don't usually have a lot of candidates. I mean, I would be polite to them. But I would ask them, you know, to clarify positions...

KING: You wouldn't have the democratic candidate in Connecticut?

MAHER: We've invited all of them.

KING: You mean Lamont won't come on?

MAHER: Well I don't know if we've invited him. Yes, he probably would. Some of them do. But in general, we do a lot better with people who have just left office. People who can be honest. You can't be honest when you're running.

KING: Bill Maher's our guest. And by the way, Bill's "New York Times" best-seller "New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer" will be available in paperback on September 5th. And the DVD "New Rules" is still available.

And available to us in New Orleans tonight is Anderson Cooper. He'll host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's up? ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, coming up, we are live as you said, from New Orleans, from the Lower Ninth Ward tonight. Tonight, one year since Katrina demolished this city, left a black eye that extended all the way up to Washington. We're keeping them honest, as we have been all year, with a look at how your tax dollars have been put to use down here, in some cases misuse, and whether elected officials are following through with all those promises that they've made.

We'll also bring you the latest twist in the JonBenet Ramsey John Karr investigation. Authorities today saying Karr's DNA doesn't match the DNA at the crime scene and that Karr is cleared of murder charges. That's got everyone wondering how in the world the case got this far in the first place. All that and more, Larry, live from New Orleans at the top of the hour.

KING: That's "A.C. 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Right back with Bill Maher after this.


MAHER: New rule, the outside world is not your house. Is it me or will people wear just about anything to the supermarket? When you hear that announcement over the P.A., cleanup on aisle 7, they're talking to you.




MAHER: And you know that if you use an Apple computer, they are recalling the batteries because apparently they burst into flames. So if you're surfing the net and you feel a burning sensation in your lap, it's either your battery or that chick you met on MySpace.


KING: What'd you make of the Emmys?

MAHER: Well, you know, Larry, that was 12 years that I've been nominated without a victory, which I think is some sort of a record.

KING: You're becoming like the girl on the soap opera.

MAHER: Except that I actually do something for a living on television. I'm kidding. She was great. But I think that it's like in subway when you buy like 10 sandwiches they give you a card and you can turn that in for one free one. I think if you're nominated 12 times you should just get a free one.

KING: Were you there?

MAHER: Yes, but I think I'm going to have to give a rest. And look, I'm thrilled to be nominated. I say that. KING: Who beat you last night?

MAHER: Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show." I think they won three years in a row.

KING: Good show.

MAHER: Yes, quality show, no doubt about it. But, you know, I just think at a certain point you've got to take a hint. And I'm thrilled for the nomination, but I don't think I can do it again.

KING: E-mail question. Daniel in Fort MacMurray, Alberta, Canada. who was your biggest influence growing up? Biggest influence now.

MAHER: Probably Johnny Carson. If you really want to talk about influence and what that world means. It's something I watched every night and absorbed. And when you show those clips of me doing a monologue, you can see Johnny Carson's rhythm in there.

KING: And now you don't need one now.

MAHER: Well, I'm 50 now. I should be giving influence.

KING: We have another e-mail from Mark in New Pauls, New York. "You often say people who have no personal experience with drugs aren't qualified to talk about drugs. At the same time you rail against marriage, having never been married yourself." Your thoughts?

MAHER: Well, marriage is -- you can -- if you've never done acid you really don't know what doing acid is like. But you don't have to be married officially with the piece of paper to know what being married is like. Anytime you're in a long-term relationship, living with someone, that's marriage. I've been there. I know exactly what marriage would be like. And I'm going to stick with doing acid.

KING: You've been in -- will you ever get married?

MAHER: You know, I would never say never.

KING: You don't have a thing against it, then?

MAHER: I don't. And I know it works for a lot of people. They're called women. No. It does work for people. I know that. I'm just not the personality type, and I'm not going to purposely go into something I know is a mistake.

KING: Have you changed your thoughts since my little boy is here tonight?

MAHER: I heard the screaming and yelling backstage. I was trying to work. I felt like I was on a Southwest flight.

KING: Have you changed...

MAHER: But I heard you teaching him the old Jack Benny routine. It was so darling. Larry kept saying...

KING: Cannon does it great, your money or your life.

MAHER: But the line is not I'm thinking about it. The line is, I'm thinking.

KING: About it.


KING: About it.

MAHER: You want to bet? I said you want to bet? And Larry went I'm thinking.

KING: But he does it good.

What about children? Have you at all changed?

MAHER: No. That I have not changed on.

KING: At what age do you begin to accept them as part of the culture?

MAHER: When they're old enough to date.

KING: But you were a child once yourself.

MAHER: Stop saying that to me, Larry. Yes, I was a child once.

KING: So you hated yourself?

MAHER: I certainly did. I certainly didn't like pooping in my pants. I was like when can I get out of this age bracket?

king: We'll be back with our remaing moments with Bill Maher right after this. Don't go away.


MAHER: Keep Jesus out of strip clubs. A former dancer from Las Vegas has founded JC's Girls, a ministry that brings the healing power of the Lord directly to America's strip clubs and adult businesses.

Do you people have to ruin everything? You've got the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court. Can't you leave us heathens a couple of titty bars out by the airport?




MAHER: CNN, to mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11 is going to be replaying their original coverage of that day. Let's just hope that President Bush doesn't tune in and go, oh, my God, they've done it again.


KING: By the way, just to set the record straight, CNN will re- air its coverage of 9/11 2001 on our Internet service, called Pipeline. So you'll see it front to back...

MAHER: I had that wrong. My apologies.

KING: On Pipeline. It's OK. But it was still...

MAHER: A funny joke.

KING: A funny line. 9/11. We have not had a terrorist attack since. We have foiled one in Britain. And in that area...

MAHER: What do you mean we foiled one in Britain. We didn't.

KING: The president gets high marks in the only area so far in the latest polls is in home security.

MAHER: Again, because it's a stupid country with stupid people who don't pay attention.

We didn't foil anything. The British did. If it was us, we probably would have blown that terrorist cell three months ago because we're so anxious to hold up anybody and say look how good we're doing in the war on terror.

And by the way, it just proves that what John Kerry said in 2004 is the right way to fight terror. With policework. I know that doesn't sound good to the musclebound American who wants to think we can win this by having the biggest, baddest army. But it's not a war you're going to win with an army, as Iraq proves.

John Kerry said this is a law enforcement problem. And that's exactly how they defeated those terrorists -- with good old-fashioned police work.

KING: And where's Iraq going?

MAHER: Downhill, of course. And I think the key thing there is that obviously we have started the civil war, which was brewing before we got there, but we really ripped the lid off it. It's going to be a civil war between the entire Muslim world, between the Shias and the Sunnis. And what we have to figure out is how to take advantage of the civil war. You know, George Bush...

KING: What do you mean?

MAHER: Take advantage of it. Instead of saying we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. How about they're fighting each other there so we don't have to fight them here? George Bush's plan is to unite our enemies. But you know, a wise man said many thousands of years ago, divide your enemies. Well, our enemies are divided. We have to, now that we have started this civil war, find a way -- first of all, just get out. It's not going to get better while we're here. Just get out.

And this idea that people are making all sorts of predictions, if we leave then Iran will come in, Turkey -- you know what? I've never heard one prediction about Iraq that came true. Let's just get out and see what happens.

KING: Are we better off with Saddam gone?

MAHER: We are not better off. We were never better off because Saddam was actually a bulwark against terrorism. He would never have allowed al Qaeda in Iraq. And I know people say oh, yes, there was al Qaeda. Yes, there was a few al Qaeda in the northern part of the country, which he did not control.

KING: He didn't like bin Laden, right?

MAHER: He hated bin Laden. So the world certainly is not better off without Saddam. And I don't know if even Iraq is better off without Saddam.

You ask the people in Iraq now. Because you know, we're running out of things that Saddam did that we don't do like torture, rape. About the only one left is mass graves. So in a lot of ways we are Saddam except for one thing, he at least had control of his country.

KING: Always good to see you Bill. You're a terrific guest no matter how people -- let me run down the things. "Real Time with Bill Maher" is back Friday nights on HBO at 11:00. "New Rules" is currently available on DVD. His "New York Times" best-selling book "New Rules: Polite Musings From a Timid Observer" will be available in paperback on September 5th. Bill will be doing a stand-up performance at the Kiva auditorium...

MAHER: Kiva.

KING: I thought I did it the other way the last time.

MAHER: I hope I'm right about that. I could be wrong, you know...

KING: At the Kiva -- you'd better be right about Jack Benny. At the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque on Saturday, September 2nd. And he'll perform next day, Sunday, on Labor Day eve, September 3rd at the Grove in Anaheim, California.

Thanks, Bill.

MAHER: I'm thinking.

I'll teach your kids how to do the impression part.

KING: You actually speak to them?

See you tomorrow night. Right now, let's go to New Orleans, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" -- Anderson.